By Associated Press - Thursday, March 20, 2014

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A man has been sentenced to 25 to 60 years in prison for the rape and killing of an elderly Grand Rapids neighbor 25 years ago.

Sixty-year-old Michael Newkirk was in prison for another crime when he was charged in the killing of 88-year-old Helen Tracy. State police say he confessed because he was feeling guilty about the killing.

He pleaded guilty Feb. 5 to second-degree murder, and Kent County Circuit Judge Mark Trusock sentenced him Thursday.

Tracy was killed in her home in 1989. A Kent County cold case team reopened the case in 2009, and investigators re-interviewed Newkirk last year.

Before the sentencing, Newkirk told the court he isn’t a bad person but is a “good person” who made “a bad mistake” and is now “paying for it.”

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